The first game I got to learn one morning was a new prototype from Bezier Games called Silver. New to me!
This game is in the vein of CABO (second edition) where you have a bunch of face-down cards and you are trying to get the lowest total value of cards among all players. Everybody will start out by looking at 2 of their cards. Each turn you will draw a card and choose to activate the power on it or swap it for another card in your line discarding the one you swap out. If you have multiples of the card you are discarding, you can discard all of the same value from your line. Because you can start getting matches and discarding those matches, it really makes for a better game than Cabo.
When you think you have the lowest total, you can call for a vote. If you have the lowest, you score 0, but if you are wrong, you score the points in your village plus 10. Everyone else scores the points in their village. The winner gets an amulet that will protect a card next round.
We played the full game of 4 rounds. I was simply terrible at it but I tried my best. It can still be attacky which isn't my favorite, but it was less harmful than Cabo. There are more actions and even some powers to help protect a card if you win the previous round.
We were playing 4 players and the guy who I didn't know ended up winning. People should have been attacking him like I was. I always seem to end up a target.
I had a pretty good time playing this one. With games like this, I think I would generally like it best playing only 1 round to make it a filler game. I would be happy to play this one again.
A game I have played before! Woooohoo! It had been a long while since my last play of it but I recalled most of the rules well enough. Michael was still learning but Toni ended up explaining it for us.
I still very much enjoy playing Krass Kariert and I am glad it is gaining in popularity. Last year it was available to play but it wasn't a hit. So weird how games come and go.
I did particularly well this game. I wasn't playing easy, I was giving all the hard punches to Mary and she kept losing her tokens for it. I managed to knock her out pretty quickly. It was over in 4 rounds because of that.
I love card games and Krass Kariert is unique enough to remain in the collection. It is great. I want to play more card games.
Looking around the room, I wanted to play a new game. I ended up finding Incubation.
This game has the cutest baby dragon art. Of course, I am attracted to the cute baby dragons - who wouldn't be!? There were no rules in the box because it was a late-stage prototype, but we were able to find Sean who taught us the game.
Incubation is a very simple set collection game. It is super simple, so it seems like it is perfect for kids to play. You roll 2 dice on your turn and collect the resources, or you can choose to reroll the dice for a different result. You are trying to hatch your baby dragons for points. When you collect resources, you have you use them or they disappear - you can't store them.
There are common goal cards you can try to claim if you hatch the matching dragons. There is a wheel where the water, fire, and gold tokens will gather for bonuses when you hatch an egg.
We ended up playing with 4 players and Carlos and Walter were super nice about it. I am not sure they wanted to play this game, but it was still good times getting to play with them.
Maybe it was my excellent rolling technique, but I managed to win this game with 60 points! Michael was second with 48 so I basically crushed them alllllllll. I am Steph Hodge, the First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons!!! (I wish!)
Incubation was super cute, but not really one that I want to play again. I would peg it great for the families out there with smaller children. Not as much strategy here for hardcore gamers.
I don't really know the story well at all, but from what I know now I think I would have liked this game better if it were made into a fully cooperative game. The artwork had me curious to try this though, it is just stunningly beautiful.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is really a cube pusher game. You are trying to get lots of points in lots of different ways. There are several rounds and the Scarlet Pimpernel is trying to get from one location to another. You aren't working together to get him there, but individually trying to get points by helping him get there. There are a lot of moving parts, but it comes together. There is a game to be played here.
Even playing with only 3 players, I felt it was too long. I can't imagine playing with 6 players. It would just be a drag I suppose.
All game I was trying to figure out a strategy and plan for the future rounds. I did a pretty good job of it. I ended up using all my cubes and locking in majorities so my tiles wouldn't get taken away. I was placing my cubes on paths I knew he would have to take so I could capture those definite points. It all worked in my favor since I managed to win a very close game, 56 to Michael's 55 to Dan's 53.
After playing, I was a bit ho-hum on The Scarlet Pimpernel. I still don't feel like I accomplished anything, and I have no real desire to go back and play again to figure anything out. If requested in the future, it would take a lot to convince me to play again. I think it was a fine and solid game, but just not for me.
There was a new game from Matagot that I was looking to try called Dungeon Academy. New to me!
This is a speed puzzle type game. You are rolling dice in a Boggle type manner. On the dice, you will see monsters you have to defeat and potions that will help regain your life as you are going. As soon as you see the dice, you must create your enter and exit plan as fast as you can. Ideally, each path you make through the dungeon will kill off a ton of monsters. The more monsters you kill, the more points you get. But every monster will take some of your health and mana. If you are the first person to exit the dungeon, you will get first dibs at the rewards at the end of the round.
There are 4 rounds in the game. Each round you will get to score bonus for one type of monster, so you have to plan each round carefully and get the best possible bonuses you can. Players have unique abilities they can use in the game and the treasures they find will also help them along the way.
It is a pretty fast game and 4 rounds just flies by. We were playing with 4 players and it was no problem explaining the rules and playing. As the rounds go on you will incorporate different dice which might pose a question as to how to kill a dragon or what a symbol might mean, but once you play a few times to be familiar with the symbols, they won't hold the game up long.
Turns out I am a true dungeon master student. I won, but it wasn't by a lot. I won by a single point! 33 to Michael's 32. Close call! I was the slowest in each round too. You can still get a treasure being the last one to finish, so it might be more beneficial to take your time.
I had a lot of fun with this game. I have played it a few times since my initial play and with a bunch of people. Everyone has enjoyed it a lot. It makes for a good filler game and people can step in or out just to see how they can do. I look forward to when it will be released.
Mary was talking about a weird trick-taking game she played called Auf falscher Fährte. New to me!
I really wanted to try it out and I got to play it with Michael and Derek. I don't know if 4 players would be better or not, but 3 worked perfectly fine. This game is so freaking bizarre. At the start of any round, each player knows the trump color and pitches any card face-down to the stack. This stack will be a combined value that will mean either you want to have the most tricks at the end or you want to have the least amount of tricks at the end. BUT YOU DON'T KNOW THE VALUE - not until the fifth trick, anyway. You look at your hand and hope you pitch a card that will help you either collect all the tricks or not.
Poor Derek was getting a rough break. There is a catch-up mechanic midway through the round where the player who is losing the current hand can change up the trump color, which should help them regain some control over what is happening in the round. I like that mechanic a lot. I am not sure it helped Derek at all though. We only played a few rounds since we were going to go to dinner, but I still had a great time playing it.
Michael ended up winning with 8 points and I had 7 so it was a close one. This game immediately went on the wishlist. I think it is just a wild game and I love the uncertainty of what cards you should be playing.
This was definitely one of the weakest roll n write games that I learned during the Gathering. This is very much like Can't Stop Express and other games like it, but it just isn't as good.
You are trying to fill in the lines of numbers by combining pairs of dice. Other players will get to select one pair from the rolled dice as well to fill in the opposite side of the sheet when it is not their turn.
Anyway, there really isn't much going on for this game at all and I can't say it is a roll n write game that you should check out and play. There are just so many better games out there.
Dan ended up winning with 17 points. I was definitely last since I didn't really complete any rows that would have gotten me lots of points.
At least I played it and I don't have to play it again!
Now was the time for the epic 7 Wonders: Armada war between Me and Stefan, and Dan also joined in for a 3p game.
I should have just hung on tight to my championship title from November. I thought I had it pretty good, but I was playing for a card that didn't show up in the final round since I forgot the card distribution. Whoops! #MistakesWereMade
Stefan just ran away with the game this time. He had the best board: Alexandria for all those resources.
It was a shameful showing from me. I can't believe I played so poorly! I scored about what Dan scored! The HORROR!
I really need a rematch. We need more players next time too.
This is a new game coming from Portal Games later this year and it is pretty simple to pick up and learn. You are trying to gain resources to craft buildings and to be able to place and use those buildings on your land. You are trying to get the most points to win the game.
Players are given a board and some buildings to work on constructing. Three resource dice are rolled and then players in turn order will draft a role for the round to give them a special bonus. Bonuses might be to gain one extra worker or an extra gold for the round. A worker die is also rolled that will give you a number of workers that you can use in the round. Workers can use an available resource die or maybe harvest from the fields you have unlocked.
You are also trying to build buildings that will give you bonuses. The buildings are really what give the game character and will keep me interested in more plays.
I did get to play this game a few times and it felt like there was a dominant strategy with the 8VP building. I was able to build 4 of them. I won both games using this strategy. It wasn't even really a close finish either. I don't know if that is a dominant strategy or I just got lucky.
There is also a solo mode to this game, and with that, a set of tons and tons of unique buildings. In the basic game, you will be playing with the same buildings over and over. I am nearly sure I would get tired playing this base game over and over. What will keep me interested are those extra buildings that will offer variety in the gameplay.
I had fun with this and I want to see where it leads for future plays.
I had the pleasure of getting to try out the new expansion for Underwater Cities. New to me Expansion!
I love the base game and I was looking to play this new expansion. It was still in prototype form and there is still a lot that I didn't get to see that is in the works.
This expansion adds a bunch of new cards for each stage of the game and some new player boards. I was asked not to get into too much detail because nothing is absolutely final yet. Every player did get to start with a unique starting ability and resources, so that was an especially awesome addition to the game.
I played a 4 player game and it went on for far too long. But that's not a fault of the expansion. I told myself I would never play this game with 4 players, but it was unavoidable unless I bailed on this game. I was most interested in learning the expansion, so I stuck it out.
I was trying hard for diversity in each of my cities, but there were no special cards that helped my strategy and it wasn't enough points for me to have a winning score. I think I was in the 80s and the winning score was over 100 points.
The expansion adds a lot of cool materials, and I am very much looking forward to the released game. It is definitely going straight on the wishlist! Any fan of the base game will appreciate the expansion.
We had some time to kill so we were going to play 2p Hanabi, but Dan joined in and made it a 3 player game.
We were playing with one variant for the rainbow wild cards and it was the one that created a new suit. It wasn't the hardest variant to play with and we did pretty well. I would say we won the game, but I don't really remember our ranking. I do know we didn't blow up!
It can be a challenging game when playing with Dan. haha It was still fun though and I think I might pick up the deluxe copy since the tiles are so friggin cool! Really like that nice quality they have.
We were waiting on Derek to finish up a game so he could join us for dinner, so Dan decided it was time to try out the abbreviated game of MeM. New to me!
The quick version of how this game went was that I want to burn it. The fair version is that I promise Dan I will try the full-length version before burning it.
In MeM, there are stones in various colors and you have to basically draft stones from the board to your own personal board while matching a pattern still on the board. If 2 green stones are next to each other then you can draft 2 blue (or any 2 matching) stones and put them next to each other and be okay. There has to be a matching pattern still on the board at the end of your turn or you lose.
I lost almost immediately. This is a visual game that I was just not grasping well enough. I would try the full game, but if it is like the short game I probably won't like it. I'll make sure to have a torch handy.
Luke from Portal games was showing off some new games, and he had a copy of this, but only for a 2-player experience. Michael and I sat down and Luke taught us how to play.
There are a lot of similarities with this game and Imperial Settlers. They are individual games set in the same universe, but they are different standalone games. This is not an expansion for Imperial Settlers.
Each player will have their own faction with a unique deck of cards. One faction might have better raiding and exploring abilities, and another might be better farmers. It is pretty easy to figure out which strategy to take on if you know the game and look through your deck beforehand. However, you are not guaranteed any specific cards because all of the cards are shuffled before the game starts and you probably won't get through all of them. These cards will be played for their building costs and can be activated anytime after they are in play.
Empires of the North works in a similar way to Imperial Settlers where each player takes an action in turn until all players have passed. Players have a couple of action discs that are placed on a circular action board. Once an action disc is placed, it can be activated once more on an adjacent space. So you will have essentially 4 actions with the action discs each season, but you have to plan wisely so you know what the second action will be with each of your discs.
There is an explore action you can take that will allow you to go off and raid or settle new areas. If you are using weapons to settle, then you aren't using weapons to attack the other players. That's nice.
My deck of cards was all about harvesting and generating a lot of in-game points from my cards in play. Michael was doing an exploring strategy which gave him a ton of end game points from the places he settled and bonus cards that he managed to play.
There can be a fair amount of attacking in this game much like Imperial Settlers. Michael was mean and killed off a lot of my cards that would have given me a lot of points, making them unusable in the final round.
If I had been able to end it a round sooner, I would have crushed him! I was soooo far in the lead, but just a few points shy of being able to end it the round before. Knowing the game now, I needed to build a card earlier to help generate those few points I would have needed. In any case, he was able to win this game by just a few points. I was robbed of that win. I will have to catch him next time.
I had a great time playing Empires of the North. I do think that it works very well with 2 players, and I don't think I would enjoy it as much with more players. I like that the box will come with so many unique decks to explore. It will be a hit, I know!
Eric Martin was available to show us how to play Black Angel. New to me!
This game was my most anticipated game of the year, so of course I was eager to try it. Despite being a prototype copy, the look of this game is show-stopping. I think about 5 people stopped by our table to just look at what was happening on this board. It is stunning!
We ended up playing a 4 player game with Eric, Michael, Derek, and me. I was surprised that Eric wanted to play again after he had just taught a few others. But he did, and he ended up playing 4 games of Black Angel in 2 days since so many people wanted to play it.
The main idea is that we are robots in control of the Black Angel, a ship that is riding through space. There are aliens attacking and the ship is taking damage. We can try to repair the ship as we go, or we can send out our shuttles into space to try and collect points for completing contracts on planets. Dice will act as our workers for the actions we select.
When playing, you can feel the influences from games like Troyes with the dice mechanic and Solenia with the board-moving mechanic. There were a bunch of other new mechanics used as well. For example, each player has their own board and can buy technology tiles to fill it. Tiles are pushed in and eventually pushed out if enough are placed in that row. Columns and rows can be activated with cards from players hands to get those tiles' bonuses.
The real heart of the game lies with the dice worker placement. You are using the dice you have or paying other players to steal their dice to take actions. The actions you can take with the die depend on the die color, and the value of the die will determine the strength of the action. Yellow dice can be used to purchase technology tiles, red dice can be used to repair the ship, green dice can be used to attack the aliens, and any die can be used to explore space.
I think the hardest thing for me to understand was the exploring space action. There are a few different options you can take when you explore space, and it was hard to visualize and grasp for me. I was also having a hard time trying to figure out how to gain points. There is no real direction to take to get points. I figured I should get the tech tiles and load up on bonuses from the grid. All I wanted to do was that, but there was never a time I could do it. All of the yellow dice were very low, and the technology space was always damaged, which meant that I couldn't get the tiles with the yellow dice that were available.
Eventually, I managed to find a way to get some major points (9) and then the game was over. Black Angel reached its destination. The game could have also ended with the alien deck being emptied, so I can see that working as a major strategy, just allowing the aliens to attack. Regardless, Eric won with 31, I was 2nd with 27, and Michael 26. I don't recall Derek's score.
This is a hard game to review. Maybe my expectations were too grand to begin with. Maybe I hyped it for myself too much. I felt the mechanics were forced together, and not elegantly. I do think that if I play again, I will have a better idea on what to do, but there is still no clear path for a strategy. There can be a bit of group analysis. Black Angel is not a cooperative game, but the ship is being attacked, and you can help stop it or repair it, but why? There is not enough incentive in destroying ships or repairing locations, and worse, you're allowing your opponents to profit by enabling them to use those repaired locations.
Black Angel is a beautiful production and I know it will sell out at GenCon. I hope people will love it more than I do. For now, I am fine with it and I could play again. But I would always choose to play Troyes over this.
There was a new Stronghold game I was invited to play called Amul. New to me!
Amul is an Arabian themed drafting and set collection game. There are only 9 rounds and you get to play only 9 cards. The element of surprise is at the end when you reveal your hand of cards for scoring.
It is a pretty straight forward game that will play with up to 8 players I believe. The more players, the more cards you will have in the game. You will always play through the entire deck of cards and have an appropriate number depending on players.
There are two ways a card can be played: either by having a table icon, meaning it must be played to the table, and/or the card will have a hand icon, meaning it will be scored at the end of the game if it is still in the player's hand. Each player will have a hand of cards and will toss one face down to the middle of the table. The cards are revealed and then drafted in player order. After each player drafts a card they will play a card from their hand to their collection face up in front of them. Some will give immediate actions to draft from the marketplace or to complete a contract from the palace.
At the end of the game you get to play those final cards you have in hand and figure out who has the best score by adding all of the different cards up. There are so many different types of cards with different scoring mechanisms, but that's what makes a cool set collection game.
Since we were playing 6 players and several of us were learning, I didn't realize how valuable the military cards were. They give you priority in the later rounds for turn order. Since I was really far from the person in the lead with the military, it meant I was going essentially last in the final 3 rounds. This was detrimental. You don't want to be drafting cards late in the turn order with 6 players. I didn't get ANYTHING I was looking for. Yeah, I totally didn't win that game. Eric ended up winning, and spoiler alert, he was the one with all the military. Doh! I know better now. I need those military cards!
I'm always looking for a good drafting game, and I've found a great one with Amul. I very much look forward to playing this again sometime soon! #shouldnthavegoneforthecamel #buonocoreforpresident
Break to see the falls!
Dan had been wanting to play the final chapter for the game Woodlands for a while.
We usually find that we are teaching this game, so we usually have to play the easier levels. Turns out we were going to teach Michael, but he's pretty smart. He was fine picking it up from the final chapter.
Turns out we were playing this game all wrong from the very early chapters. The rules are ambiguous so it wasn't really our fault. It was painfully clear in the final chapter that we were playing wrong though. The "new rules" messed with my mind, so I was way outside my element.
I had too many attack cards played on me. One round, I was playing with an upside-down map, and the rules were confusing to me, so it was just a train wreck. I don't even know if I got any points! I super duper lost this game. Newbie Michael was the end winner, go figure.
What I learned from this play was that I really need to go back and play the easier levels with the alternate rules. We were just playing the game on super hard mode before, which I liked, but doesn't work in the final chapter since it is just too hard and not workable. S'all good.
I saw a stack of new prototype games from Asmodee. Since I am always looking to learn new games, I pulled out One Key. New to me!
I am a fan of Libellud games. They always have such compelling artwork. I was curious to see what they had in store with this title.
One Key is a cooperative game in which a silent cluegiver tries to get their teammates to guess the selected image by giving them clues using other image cards. Of course, the cluegiver can't talk, so the teammates have only the powers of deduction, trying to make connections when there might be none to make!
There is a snazzy app that you can download that will make fun sounds and music as you play. Definitely a clever addition and super cute to use.
When I was giving the clues, it was so hard. Derek and Michael were not on my wavelength at all. They were making connections on cards that I was not seeing and I just felt really dumb for not making those same connections. We ended up losing about halfway through the game. Whoops. We had to play again. This time I asked Michael to be the cluegiver, and Derek and I were working together to figure out the clues.
Derek was on point. I was not buying it at all, but I went with Derek's instinct and we ended up winning the game. It was pretty crazy how much Derek was on Michael's wavelength. I don't know how he did it - I was leaning a totally different direction. Goes to show I am just terrible at this game!
I had a great time playing this one though and I really look forward to playing again!
There was a lot of talk about a new prototype called Folding Space. New to me!
We found Bobby, who is one of the designers, to teach the 4 of us this game. Folding Space is a set collection, space battle game. You are trying to jump from planet to planet collecting items. If you end your movement on a planet with no one else you get to take one item. But you really want to end your movement on the same planet as another player, which will initiate a combat. The winner gets a bunch of items and the loser still gets a couple of leftover items.
The game has a folding board mechanic using boards that are similar to those found in the game Keyper. The boards in Folding Space have a bunch of icons that relate to combat cards and movement. Players use these boards to try and gain majorities of different symbols. It isn't a timed mechanic, but it really is, because when everyone else is done, they'll start the countdown, forcing you to finish quickly.
There is a space seagull that will issue a whole lot of negative points to players who really overshoot their opponent in combat, so you want your battles to be close. Otherwise, you might be sorry. This was a pretty harsh mechanic.
I just didn't feel a compelling reason to have the folding boards in this game. I was trying to hard to find the best possible solution with my folding board but it never seemed to work. I never seemed to win the majorities I was going after. I really like the folding boards in general, and I think they should be in another game that focuses more on the boards. But in Folding Space, there seemed to be too many mechanics to really make the boards worthwhile.
I ended up winning by a long shot with 48 points. I think everyone else was in the 30s. I was trying my best not to conflict with anyone. I didn't have the combat cards I would need since I wasn't winning those majorities, so I just tried to stay clear of everyone and do my own thing. It seemed to work.
For me, this game just doesn't get me excited to play. It was pretty easy to play and I can see it being a casual game for casual gamers. I just didn't feel like I had a lot of control over what I was doing or getting. It was fine and I could play again, but I am not rushing to.
The BGG Show!!
Stay Tuned for Part 3! Turns out Part 2 was too long so I needed a part 3...
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